Victims of 2008 Chatsworth Metrolink Class Want Lawmakers to Up the Railroad Liability Cap

December 31, 1969

The victims and family members of those that died in the 2008 Chatsworth train accident are dismayed that Congress has not raised the railroad liability cap, which has kept them from being able to receive proper compensation for their Los Angeles personal injuries and wrongful deaths. Last week, a number of them met with the field representative of Dianne Feinstein and asked that the US senator pressure Congress to raise the railroad liability cap. They also insisted that they be allowed to testify in front of federal lawmakers.

Twenty five people died and over 130 others were injured in the collision, which involved a Union Pacific Freight train and a Metrolink commuter train. Later, the National Transportation Safety Board would determine that the September 12, 2008 collision occurred when the Metrolink train did not stop at a red light and that the train's engineer , Robert Sanchez, was text messaging at the time. Sanchez was one of the fatalities.

Following the deadly Los Angeles train accidents, civil lawsuits were filed by the victims and their loved ones. Close to 130 awards were issued, with amounts ranging from $12K to $9M. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman has said that while he didn't think the compensation the victims received was enough, he had to stick to the legal cap. 1997's Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act places a federal caps ceiling of $200M on liability for passenger rail accidents.

Veolia, whose subsidiary Connex Railroad LLC had retained Sanchez, paid $54M of the awards, while Metrolink and insurers covered the rest. Lichtman also said that the total claims filed were at least $120M more than the $200M cap and if the Los Angeles train crash lawsuits had gone to trial separately, total damages awarded might have been greater than $350M. (Also, although following the 2008 Chatsworth train collision then-Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) presented two bills to increase the liability cap to $275M and $500M respectively, the two measures, which encountered opposition from transit and railroad agencies, did not make it through the House of Representatives.

California Train Accidents
Train crashes, when they do happen, generally result in multiple injuries and deaths. With the approximately 3,000 train accidents that take place in this country every year, you can imagine that the toll can be high.

Common cause of train crashes include train malfunctions, operator negligence or inexperience, broken train tracks, faulty cross signals, and other mechanical and human errors. In the last few years, one too many train operators who were distracted while texting have been the cause of serious collision.

Los Angeles personal injury attorney Vincent Howard represents clients injured in serious accidents. Please contact Howard Law PC if you would like to find whether you have grounds for a Southern California wrongful death or injury lawsuit.

Metrolink crash victims want Congress to raise ceiling on damages
, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2012

Metrolink crash victims tell senator's representative compensation not adequate, Ventura County Star, July 27, 2012


More Blog Posts:

NTSB Wants All States to Ban Cell Phone Driving, California Injury Lawyers, December 13, 2011

Metrolink Train Engineer Involved in Deadly Chatsworth Train Crash Sent Text Messages Prior to Running Red Light and Colliding with Other Train, Confirm NTSB Investigators, California Injury Lawyers, January 21, 2010

Metrolink Tentatively Agrees to $39 Million Los Angeles County Train Accident Settlement Over Deadly 2005 Glendale Derailment, California Injury Lawyers, December 30, 2009

"Obtaining recovery can be challenging--especially against large corporations and other defendants and if you try to do it on your own. Working with an experienced legal team that is familiar with the system, knows how to prove liability, will protect your rights, and is committed to fight for your compensation is in your best interest," said Los Angeles train accident lawyer Howard.

Southern California injury attorney Howard represents clients in Huntington Beach, Laguna, Irvine, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Riverside, San Bernardino, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, and numerous other cities.